It took Indra Setiawan more than 25 years to become director of Indonesia's national airline, Garuda. Now, as he languishes in a Jakarta prison, after being charged this week with aiding the killing of Munir Said Thalib, once the country's leading human rights activist, perhaps he wishes he hadn't got the nod after all. His career at Garuda started on Valentine's Day in 1977. He occupied various senior positions before being appointed as director, but was not the favourite for the post. The frontrunner for the nomination five years ago was Samudera Sukardi, the brother of the former minister for state-owned enterprises, Laksamana Sukardi. At the time of the nomination, wearing a brave face over the failure to appoint his own brother, Mr Laksamana said Indra was 'equally well-qualified for the position', and that the appointment of his brother 'would have affected the government's credibility'. At the helm of Garuda, Indra made some good decisions, and some questionable ones, trying to solve the crisis of the fledgling airline. The decision he likely regrets most dates to August 11, 2004, when he signed a letter of assignment for co-pilot Pollycarpus Priyanto, making him a support-staff member of the flight's security unit between Jakarta and Singapore. It was apparently unprecedented for the director to issue such a letter directly to a co-pilot without going through appropriate subordinates. The letter was signed close to the time that Munir's plan to go abroad appeared in press reports. Pollycarpus is the central figure in the unsolved murder of Munir, who died of arsenic poisoning on board a Garuda flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam, via Singapore, on September 7, 2004. He was going to Holland to further his education. Pollycarpus was also on the flight. He had no expertise as an airline security officer, and the police now want to know why Indra ignored company procedure and assigned the co-pilot to the task - in a hurry. Munir, 38 when he died, was the founder of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, and the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor. He worked to expose the abuses committed by the government and the military, earning the respect of his peers and winning several international prizes. However, it also made him the enemy of some influential people within Indonesia's dark power circles. Many people in Jakarta believe Munir's death was part of a bigger scheme drawn up by the country's secret services. And now they see the case as a test of the country's progress in harnessing its generals. Nearly three years after Munir's remains were laid to rest under muddled branches, in an untended cemetery in Malang, his home town in East Java, the search for his killer still grips Indonesia and beyond. Washington, Brussels and the United Nations have been pressuring Jakarta to do more. The link to the secret services was made by an investigative team that noticed just prior to and after Munir's death, Pollycarpus made up to 35 telephone calls to a number linked to retired general Muchdi Purwoprajoyo, a deputy director of the secret services. New information has established that Munir was poisoned while at Singapore's Changi airport. It was previously believed he had been poisoned en route from Jakarta, when Pollycarpus swapped his business-class seat with him. Pollycarpus was arrested and sentenced to 14 years in prison for premeditated conspiracy to murder, but was released by the Supreme Court last October. The police now believe that Pollycarpus, who cannot be charged with the same crime twice, swapped the seat to give him more time with Munir in Singapore. Business-class passengers disembark much earlier than economy passengers. Pollycarpus and Ongen Latuihamalo - a former Indonesian pop-singer with alleged links to the Indonesian military - were the last people to talk to Munir at Changi. Ongen's whereabouts are unknown. Another Garuda executive, Rohainil Aini, has also been arrested. But no one from the secret servcies has been indicted. Rohainil was named a suspect for changing Pollycarpus' flight schedule. The day before Munir took his flight Pollycarpus had been scheduled to fly to Beijing. Lawyers representing Garuda called the arrests 'thoughtless, over-reactive and illogical' and said they would sue the police. 'The arrest [of Indra] was conducted as if my client is a terrorist,' Muhammad Assegaf, one of the lawyers, said. 'All the police needed to do was submit a letter requesting his presence at the National Police headquarters for questioning.' Indra, who resigned from Garuda in 2005 after investigators requested more information about his role, was arrested during a police raid while at a friend's house in Tebet, South Jakarta, last Saturday. If found guilty, Indra faces a maximum of 15 years in jail.